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the stairs indeed...

the stairs indeed...

R

Amber Tamblyn, Aidan Gillen, Armie Hammer

Claudia: Wait, who else lives in the building?  There’s gotta be…there’s that couple, right?  They have a newborn baby.  People don’t go on vacations with babies!
Tommy: Really?  You been on an airplane lately??

Three people – Claudia (Tamblyn), Karl (Gillen), and Tommy (Hammer) – get stuck in the elevator in a virtually desolate old apartment complex undergoing renovations.  All three have important things they need to be attending to, but one of those things is much more sinister than the others.

The set up to this movie isn’t too bad, and if the director could have created more of a claustrophobic feel to the movie, it would have worked better than it did.  As it was, I never felt all that closed in for some reason.  Maybe the flashbacks to the occupants’ previous stories were too freeing.  Those back-stories were needed, though, to build sympathy for some characters and ominous tension around another.  Not that it’s hard to figure out who the killer is from frame one of the movie.  In fact, despite the way things are played out, story-wise, it’s hard to believe that the filmmakers actually thought there was any suspense as to who the bad guy was.  Maybe there wasn’t supposed to be.

While the flashbacks were necessary, I wish they would have been done better.  They’re presented in an over-stylized, dreamlike fashion that just reeks of a director trying to punch up his movie with pizzazz through visual tricks and fast editing.  What suffers in this approach is the acting.  It’s actually not half bad inside the elevator, but in those flashbacks, most of the line readings sound fairly dispassionate.  Though, Tamblyn is still the best of the bunch.  I think she probably elevated (no pun intended) this movie a little higher than it would have achieved otherwise.

If you do decide to watch this one, be prepared for one particularly disturbing flashback to the killer’s latest victim.  Yeesh, it’s twisted and sick, and I could have done without it.  I guess showing it was meant to elevate (still no pun intended) the tension in the elevator, but I think that could have been accomplished more through words than visuals.

Overall, it looks pretty good, the acting is fair to good, and some scenes build a decent amount of tension.  It’s certainly nothing revolutionary, but it’s okay for what it is.  It could have been a lot better, though.

Take the stairs.

10 – 1.5 for it not feeling claustrophobic enough – 1.8 for the flashbacks not being done very well – .7 for some spotty acting – .2 for an unnecessarily sick scene = 5.8

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